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Latin America Insights: Keeping Your Organization Safe in a Mobile World

The power of mobility has transformed the IT landscape.

While mobility and other tech forces, such as cloud and big data, have enabled organizations to improve productivity and increase efficiency, the constant challenge of keeping data, assets and users secure continues to be a top concern for CIOs and CSOs.

And these concerns stretch across global borders. For example, Frost & Sullivan analysts predict a $1.1B investment towards IT security in Latin America by 2015.

Today, security is no longer an expense, but a necessity for moving forward. It’s an investment for the future longevity of any company. With this in mind, how can business and IT leaders keep their organizations safe in a mobile world? And what can we learn from the mobile security adoption we are seeing in Latin America?

Recently, I had a chance to participate in a new Future of Mobility podcast with Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst, Bruno Tasco, to discuss the answers to some of these questions and how organizational leaders can address security in a way to reap the benefits of true mobility. The podcast is available for download in Spanish and Portuguese and a summary in English can be found on iTunes.

Here are a couple of considerations for CIOs and CSOs as they evaluate their mobile security strategies and look to future-proof their business.

Prepare for Fast Changes

Talking about mobility or general mobility in our Latin America market is like talking about the past. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), Latin America is experiencing and will continue to see incredible mobile adoption. Read More »

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The Converging IT Landscape

With networks getting faster and the whole world going mobile, the number of connections is growing at an unprecedented rate. By next year, the amount of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on the planet, and by 2020, will reach 50 billion. And those devices are getting smarter all the time.

While there is no doubt that mobility, cloud and big data are each enabling business transformation, imagine what they could do collectively. That’s the power of convergence, and it’s revolutionizing the IT and business landscape.

This convergence brings together applications, systems and processes to help meet current needs while preparing for future innovation. It’s at the heart of the Internet of Everything (IoE) in connecting people, process, data and things in new and innovative ways. And mobility is a driving force fuelling this evolving landscape, breaking down barriers and enabling the birth of entirely new kinds of business and economic models.

Mobility: A Cornerstone in the Converging IT LandscapeFuture of Mobility_v1-2

Mobile devices are already a pervasive part of our lives. As mobility continues to evolve, these devices will be primarily how a network connects to the user, helping shape and customize the end-user experience to deliver more personalized services and real-time engagement.

Imagine you are an online shopper who doesn’t want to wait overnight for your shipment. You want your product now. From your mobile device, you will not only be able to price-match with other retailers and see if the product is available in a store near you (a current capability), but also connect with real-time data in the cloud over an agile network to see if there are checkout lines in the store, reserve a parking spot, and tell the customer service rep you are on your way.

Gartner predicts that, through this year, mobile apps will drive “the next evolution in user experience” by “leverage[ing] intent, inferred from emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behavior.” This is already happening through smart devices and wearables, for example, as people (myself included) use health and fitness apps to help make better, healthier choices.

Read More »

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Energy Networking Convergence Part 2: Cyber & Physical Security

This is the second of a four part series on the convergence of IT and OT (Operational Technologies) by Rick Geiger

Physical Security has evolved from serial communication to modern systems that are largely, if not completely, IP networked systems.  The unique requirements of physical security have often lead to shadow IT departments within the physical security department with networks and servers procured and operated by the physical security department with little or no involvement from IT.

Intersections with IT and the corporate network began with the interconnection of physical security systems and the placement of physical security appliances on the corporate network to avoid the cost of wiring that would duplicate existing networks.  At one time IT may have been persuaded that these “physical security appliances” didn’t need to be managed by IT.  But that persuasion was shattered by malware infections that revealed far too many “physical security appliances” to be repackaged PCs with specialized interface cards.

HAK22620 - for webIT departments scrambled to locate and remove these vulnerable devices and either outright banned them from the corporate network or insisted that they be managed by IT.  A hard lesson was learned that just as the organization, including IT, required physical security, video surveillance and badge access control, the physical security department needed the cyber security expertise of IT to protect the communication and information integrity of networked physical security systems.

Convergence is sometimes regarded as the use of physical location as a criteria for network access.  Restricting certain network access to a particular location and/or noting any discrepancies between the location source of a login attempt and the physical location reported by the badge access system.  For example, the network won’t accept a login from Asia when that user badged into a building in Philadelphia.

The need and opportunity for Cyber and Physical security convergence is much broader than network access.  Physical Security systems need Cyber Security protection just as Cyber Systems need Physical Security protection.

What are, at a very high level, the primary activities of Physical Security on a day to day basis?

  • Protect the perimeter
  • Detect breaches
  • Situational awareness
  • Standard operating procedures define for anticipated events
  • Forensic to gather, preserve and analyze evidence & information

Physical security personnel often have a law enforcement or military background, and approach these activities from that point of view.

HAK22891-webOver time, the technology of physical security has evolved from walls, guns and guards to sophisticated microprocessor based sensors, IP video cameras with analytics, and network storage of video & audio.  Although there are many examples of close collaboration between IT and Physical Security, there may also be tension.  Physical Security departments defend their turf from what they perceive as the encroachment of IT by claiming that they are fundamentally different.

A quick look at the Physical Security systems quickly reveals something that looks very familiar to IT. Networked devices, servers, identity management systems, etc. are all familiar to IT.

At a very high level, the primary activities of Cyber Security can be grouped into a set of activities that are very similar to Physical Security.  The common process that both need to follow is a regular review of Risk Assessment:

  • What are the possible threats
  • What is the probability of occurrence of each threat
  • What are the consequences of such occurrence
  • What are cost effective mitigations — as well as mitigations required by compliance

The Risk Assessment process is an integral part of NERC-CIP V5, which requires a review at least every 15 months of “…cyber security policies that collectively address…” CIP-004 through CIP -011.  Implementation is required to be done “..in a manner that identifies, assesses, and corrects deficiencies…

Many of the activities Cyber and Physical Security overlap and need to align:

  • The use of IT Technology in Physical Security systems
  • Overlapping Identity Management
  • Device Identity management
  • Requirement for IT process maturity
  • IT security required for Physical Security systems
  • Physical Security required for IT Systems
  • Consistent future strategy & direction

The bottom line is that the activities of Physical and Cyber security have many parallels with opportunities to learn from each other and collaborate in threat assessment and risk assessment strategies and coordinated implementation and operation.  NERC-CIP V5 has mandatory requirements for both Physical and Cyber security.  Modern security, both Physical and Cyber, need to move beyond reacting to events that have already occurred, to agility and anticipation.

What does this mean for Cisco?

Cisco has a portfolio of leading edge Cyber and Physical Security solutions.  Cisco’s Advanced Services offerings help our customers develop and deploy a collaborative, unified approach to Physical and Cyber security.  NERC-CIP V5 is a compelling event for the electric utility industry.  The transition period is underway with completion required by April 2016.  Are you up to date on Cisco’s solutions and capabilities? We are here to help!

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Next Generation Data Center Design With MDS 9710 – Part II

EMC World was wonderful. It was gratifying to meet industry professionals,  listen in on great presentations and watch the demos for key business enabling technologies that Cisco, EMC and others have brought to fruition.  Its fascinating to see the transition of DC from cost center to a strategic business driver . The same repeated all over again at Cisco Live. More than 25000 attendees, hundreds of demos and sessions. Lot of  interesting customer meetings and MDS continues to resonate. We are excited about the MDS hardware that was on the display on show floor and interesting Multiprotocol demo and a lot of interesting SAN sessions.

Outside these we recently did a webinar on how Cisco MDS 9710 is enabling High Performance DC design with customer case studies. You can listen to that here.

Three Pillars of ReliabilitySo let’s continue our discussion. There is no doubt when it comes to High Performance SAN switches there is no comparable to Cisco MDS 9710. Another component that is paramount to a good data center design is high availability. Massive virtualization, DC consolidation and ability to deploy more and more applications on powerful multi core CPUs has increased the risk profile within DC. These DC trends requires renewed focus on availability. MDS 9710 is leading the innovation there again. Hardware design and architecture has to guarantee high availability. At the same time, it’s not just about hardware but it’s a holistic approach with hardware, software, management and right architecture. Let me give you some just few examples of the first three pillars for high reliability and availability.

 

Reliability examples in MDS

 

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MDS 9710 is the only director in the industry that provides Hardware Redundancy on all critical components of the switch, including fabric cards. Cisco Director Switches provide not only CRC checks but ability to drop corrupted frames. Without that ability network infrastructure exposes the end devices to the corrupted frames. Having ability to drop the CRC frames and quickly isolate the failing links outside as well as inside of the director provides Data Integrity and fault resiliency. VSAN allows fault isolation, Port Channel provides smaller failure domains, DCNM provides rich feature set for higher availability and redundancy. All of these are but a subset of examples which provides high resiliency and reliability.

 

Weakest link

 

We are proud of the 9500 family and strong foundation for reliability and availability that we stand on. We have taken that to a completely new level with 9710. For any design within Data center high availability  has to go hand in hand with consistent performance. One without the other doesn’t make sense. Right design and architecture with DC as is important as components that power the connectivity. As an example Cisco recommend customers to distribute the ISL ports of an Port Channel across multiple line cards and multiple ASICs. This spreads the failure domain such that any ASIC  or even line card failures will not impact the port channel connectivity between switches and no need to reinitiate all the hosts logins. You can see white paper on Next generation Cisco MDS here. At part of writing this white paper ESG tested the Fabric Card redundancy (Page 9) in addition to other features of the platform. Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

 

Geschäftsmann hat Wut, Frust und Ärger im Büro

 

The most important aspect for all of this is for customer is to be educated.

Ask the right questions. Have in depth discussions to achieve higher availability and consistent performance. Most importantly selecting the right equipment, right architecture and best practices means no surprises.

We will continue our discussion for the Flexibility aspect of MDS 9710.

 

 

-We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit (Aristotle)

 

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Cisco Live Utilities Session a Big Success: Converging IT and OT (Operational Technologies) – BSAIoT-2100

May 20, 2014 at 10:21 am PST

rgeiger2Rick Geiger presented Session BSAIoT-2100 -- How to Successfully Converge IT and OT (Operational Technologies) at Cisco live in San Francisco this week, with strong interest from attendees.

Many of you know of Rick Geiger from this blog and other publications. Rick’s session at Cisco Live 2014 discussed the many aspects and challenges of merging OT and IT in organizations.  Computing and networking for operations requires more IT-based support and a growing convergence of IT and OT skill sets to support intelligent devices and varied processes. Rick’s session discussed the convergence driven by the critical needs of the OT organization for the process maturity of IT and for managing and securing the growing complexity of OT systems.

Rick Geiger CLUS AgendaIn bringing IT processes & capabilities to OT, IT will need to recognize the needs of critical control systems and the equivalent process capabilities that OT provides for engineering and operations. Successful companies will find ways to establish common ground & combine the expertise & value of both. Bringing standalone devices or isolated networks into core operational systems will bring clear and tangible advantages and business benefits to those companies.

Rick’s session topic covered new ideas & concepts that are developing around IT/OT, providing major opportunities for those who understand how to leverage their IT know-how to Operations.

Missed it? Well you can download the slide deck here:

BSAIoT-2100 -- How to Successfully Converge IT and OT (2014 San Francisco) - 1 Hour, Rick Geiger (requires registration)

Let us know what you think!

(Find out more about convergence by reading Rick’s series of blogs, starting with: Energy Networking Convergence Part 1 – The Journey From Serial to IP)

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